Over the past few years, I’ve learned and personally discovered many things about health, nutrition, and how our lifestyles can play a major role in how we feel in our bodies today and long into the future.
I couldn’t help but notice that 3 very important areas of our health can have the biggest impact if they are out of balance. I call these the 3 S’s of optimal health.
If you can find balance in each of these areas of your life, you will be healthy. Isn’t that what we all want? Health, energy, and a body and mind that keeps working for many years to come.
The truth of the matter is that most of us are NOT balanced in all of these areas of our health – myself included.
For years now, research has been bringing more awareness to the impacts of sleep on our overall health. When our bodies go into a deep sleep, it gives our nerves, cells, brain, and digestive system a break from normal everyday business. With the busy lives that most of us are living these days, our bodies need this rest!
During sleep is when your body goes into detox mode and is hard at work detoxing, processing, and flushing out all of the toxins that have accumulated in your cells during the day (from food, environment, water etc..).
Think of it as a mini-spring cleaning every night. If our bodies are given enough time for this process to take place, we feel rejuvenated and energized when we wake. If we don’t get enough time, these toxins will accumulate in our cells and lead to the development of many chronic diseases such as arthritis, allergies, IBS, cancer, and liver disease.
Aside from this very important process, chronic lack of sleep can affect your whole day and lifestyle in many negative ways. It makes you less likely to exercise and more likely to rely on sugar and caffeine to get you through the day – we’ve all been there!
It can even affect your brain chemistry and make you more irritable, sad, and even depressed. I mean, who doesn’t get cranky after a bad night’s sleep? I know I do!
There is no hard and fast rule about how many hours you are supposed to sleep. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise! Trust your body, listen, and learn how many hours make you feel at your best. As with anything in life, quality is more important than quantity. If you can sleep for 6-7 deep quality hours, it will be better than 9-10 hours of interrupted and light sleep.
There are many reasons that your sleep may be disrupted (especially if you have kids!) or you aren’t getting the quality you need. It’s common practice these days for everyone to have troubles either falling asleep or staying asleep.
Between the overstimulation of our busy lifestyles, technology, heavy demands at work, toxins in our food, and caffeine, I’m surprised that we manage to sleep at all!
Do you struggle with sleep?
Reflection Questions *Journal recommended*:
- What do you feel is the cause of your sleep challenges (assuming you have any)? Make a list of what could possibly be disturbing your sleep cycle.
- How can you begin to minimize or eliminate these challenges? You may not be able to get rid of your kids just yet, but there are always things that can be done (i.e. take a night off in the spare bedroom and wear earplugs!).
- How many hours of quality sleep do you need to feel your best?
Let’s be honest, stress is an all too common daily experience for many of us. From work demands to busy family schedules. From nights out with friends to
As we head into the Christmas season (the most stressful time of year if you ask me) I encourage you to take a serious look at the stress in your life and devise a plan to start letting things go and spend more time focused on relaxation and joy. Your health depends on it.
Chronic stress – a constant state of stress – is toxic to your body in many ways.
When you are in a state of stress (either perceived in your brain or actually happening at that moment), your body releases a variety of stress hormones such as adrenaline and cortisol. These hormones cause your blood sugars to increase (so that your body has the energy it needs to run away from the danger). This is just one of the many possible causes of serious sugar cravings as your body craves more quick energy to stay “safe”. Over time, this process can become fatigued and the blood sugar balancing act can be damaged leading to such things as diabetes and insulin resistance.
When these hormones are continually being released, as with our current lifestyle, our organs and cells begin to weaken and become fatigued. Very serious damage can develop in our thyroid glands, adrenal glands, and pancreas. Have you noticed the increase in people being diagnosed with hyper or hypothyroidism? How about adrenal fatigue? These diseases are on the rise, and it’s our stress levels, among other things, that are causing them!
During a state of stress, your body also takes energy away from your digestive system so that it can be used to power the brain and the muscles in your legs (again to run away from the danger). Without energy in your digestive system, food is left undigested to ferment in your gut which can lead to allergies, food intolerances, painful bloating, and even more serious diseases such as celiac disease and IBS. Are you thinking twice about eating in a stressed state yet?
Chronic stress has also been linked to weight gain, dementia, depression, anxiety, sleep problems, memory deterioration, and more. It causes you to be more irritable with your loved ones and lose patience more easily thus affecting your close and loving relationships.
It’s not something that’s going to go away overnight. Our lives are busy. The key is to recognize what is happening in your life and how much stress affects you on a daily basis. It’s from this place that you can learn to build in routines that allow you to relax and reset each and every day. Meditation and exercise are perfect examples of such routines.
Please take 5 minutes to reflect on the questions below and understand the stress in your life. As you can see from the discussion above, stress is something that is serious and needs your attention if you hope to live a happy and healthy life.
Reflection Questions *Journal recommended*:
- On a scale of 1-10 (10 being constant relaxation), where do you rate your daily stress level?
- What signals and changes do you notice in your body when you are stressed?
- Which causes of stress are out of your control? How can you decide to let these things go?
- Which causes of stress in your life are in your control? How can you begin to manage or lessen these triggers?
- What activities do you find relaxing? How can you do more of these every day?
Big surprise right? Sugar is toxic and extremely dangerous for your health. I know that you know this already but it never hurts to have a good reminder.
Sugar never used to be a problem. We’d eat it every once in awhile when we came across a beehive or some sugar cane. Our bodies could handle it. The real problem now is that things have changed dramatically in our food system. Most people now eat sugar at every single meal of the day. Sugar (which has over 80 different names) is in at least 75% of the packaged foods you find at your local grocery store. Yogurt, sports drinks, granola, protein bars, salad dressing, pasta sauce, almond milk, and the list goes on and on.
It’s easy to know and understand when you eat a piece of cake that you are eating sugar. But, did you know that a “healthy” breakfast of organic strawberry yogurt, granola, and berries usually has about 40 grams of sugar in it? That’s 10 teaspoons of sugar. 10! Just for breakfast!
The World Health Organization recommends that adults don’t consume more than 25 grams per day. Once you start reading labels and watching your intake, you can see how easy it is to consume way above this limit on a relatively healthy diet.
The toxic results in our bodies from overconsumption of sugar are numerous. Most people are addicted to sugar whether or not they realize it yet. The food companies LOVE that we are addicted and that we keep coming back to buy more of their food. But at what cost?
Weight gain, diabetes, tooth decay, fatty liver disease, cancer, heart disease, acne, memory loss, dementia, fatigue, anxiety, depression, afternoon energy crash, death of taste buds, cellular degeneration, insulin resistance, mood swings, digestive upset, allergies, leaky gut syndrome, weak immune system, poor sleep, brain fog, adrenal fatigue….
Do any of these
I didn’t think so!
The first step when it comes to sugar is understanding and awareness of
Video – How Sugar Works in the Body
Video – How Sugar is Ruining your Health
Take the next 5 minutes to reflect on the sugar in your life and decide on which small changes you can start making to begin to decrease the amount you eat.
Reflection Questions *Journal recommended*:
- How much sugar do you think you eat in one day? If you take the time to actually calculate it, I know you’ll be surprised.
- What are your sugar triggers? When do you realize your sugar cravings the most?
- Do you suspect you are addicted to sugar (cravings, inability to say no or stop after just one, afternoon energy crash…)?
- What changes can you make to your diet or lifestyle today to help you decrease your sugar consumption?
Love & Optimal Health,